Investigating Allegations of Staff Sexual Misconduct with Offenders

National Institute of Corrections
American University Washington College of Law
July 9-14, 2006

American Correctional Association
Public Correctional Policy on Offender on Offender Sexual Assault
Jan 12, 2005


Sexual assaults against individuals confined in correctional facilities or on community supervision are wrong.

All offenders, especially adults and juveniles diagnosed with mental illnesses and young, first-time offenders are at an increased risk of sexual victimization. Victims of sexual assault may suffer severe physical and psychological effects that hinder their successful reintegration into their communities.

Policy Statement:

Corrections professionals have a responsibility to those they serve to provide a safe environment within which offenders are supervised. Sexual assault of offenders-on-offenders is inhumane and can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases within correctional facilities and to the community upon release.

ACA recommends the following strategies to correctional agencies:

Establish, publicize and enforce a zero-tolerance policy regarding all forms of sexual assault;

Develop classification and supervision policies and procedures within detention and correctional facilities that minimize the potential for sexual assault to occur and develop policies that serve to protect the victim and prevent repeat occurrences;

Establish investigative policies and procedures that include the processes for reporting and investigating allegations involving sexual assault, including appropriate measures to protect the complainant during an investigation;

Establish mental health and medical protocols for treating the complainant, including initial screening and appropriate follow-up treatment.

Foster an environment in which the reporting of alleged sexual assault is encouraged and reports may be made without fear of reprisal;

Establish relationships and protocols with outside law enforcement and health care agencies to facilitate the prosecution of assailants and reporting of all instances of sexual assault to the proper authorities for investigation and possible criminal action;

Maintain adequate and appropriate levels of staff to protect inmates against sexual assault;

Develop effective correctional strategies, such as meaningful programs that provide constructive activities, and increase staff and inmate safety;

Promote effective facility design that enables direct lines of sight within housing units;

Provide orientation and ongoing in-service training to staff, volunteers and contractors, emphasizing the zero-tolerance policy, explaining state law, case law, administrative policies on the issue, and providing the skills needed to effectively manage offenders;

Provide information to offenders, inmates and detainees on how to avoid sexual assault; and

Establish a systematic process for the collection of data that document the number of sexual assault allegations, the nature of each allegation and the resolution of the allegation.

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